Go beyond Good Humor and scoop shops
As summer commences in Chicago, frozen dessert season kicks in. Luckily, Chicago is rife with great scoop shops, but for those interested in more unique and plated ice cream-based desserts, local restaurants are ready to serve. A myriad of eateries offer inspired sundaes, like Sunda’s jackfruit and coconut gel-garnished dish with avocado, sweet corn, cheddar cheese, and ube-macapuno ice cream. Others riff off frozen cream via creations such as Aba’s iteration of kulfi — the classic Indian sweet — with Turkish coffee, coriander caramel, and Marcona almonds. From North to South, here’s where to cool off this summer with Chicago’s most compelling composed ice cream dishes.
Mon Ami Gabi
Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’s French bistro chain Mon Ami Gabi in Lincoln Park dips into the ice cream pool via house-made profiteroles ($10) filled with vanilla bean ice cream, topped with hot fudge, and garnished with a mix of sea salt and powdered sugar. Fun fact: This dessert has been on the menu (created by former pastry chef, the late Michel Briand) since the very first location opened in 1998.
When stalwart River North steakhouse RPM Steak opened in 2014, Lettuce Entertain You introduced a Baked Alaska ($18) which has remained on the menu ever since. Sizable enough to feed two to four humans, this fiery sweet involves salted caramel ice cream and vanilla sponge cake, enveloped in toasted Italian meringue. Order one up and expect a rum-fueled table side flambé.
Chef CJ Jacobson’s Middle Eastern-flavored number Aba — Lettuce Entertain You’s Fulton Market masterpiece, is looking to India for inspiration to create this kulfi dessert ($8). Though in India kulfi is often sold on sticks, his version is plated, flavored with Turkish coffee, served atop coriander caramel, and garnished with marcona almonds.